SPONSORED:

Blumenthal pushes Facebook, Twitter to remove vaccine misinformation targeting pregnant women

Blumenthal pushes Facebook, Twitter to remove vaccine misinformation targeting pregnant women
© Greg Nash

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is pushing Facebook and Twitter to clamp down on coronavirus vaccine misinformation campaigns that are targeting pregnant women. 

Blumenthal, in a letter sent to the tech giants on Friday, urged them to follow through on commitments to remove coronavirus vaccine misinformation after reported incidents of anti-vaccine campaigns are targeting and harassing pregnant women with false information. 

“Time and again, Facebook and its peers have moved far too slow in responding to the targeted harassment and promotion of destructive conspiracy theories against women and people of color. These mothers, through raising awareness to the vaccine and setting an example for the community, are doing an immense public service and lovingly protecting their infants. They are also acting responsibly,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter to Facebook.

ADVERTISEMENT

He penned a similar letter to Twitter

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciDelta variant's UK dominance sparks concerns in US Overnight Health Care: FDA says millions of J&J doses from troubled plant must be thrown out | WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations | Top CDC official says US not ready for next pandemic Top CDC official warns US not ready for next pandemic MORE, last week said about 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with “no red flags.”  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that based on how the vaccines work, “experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk to people who are pregnant.” The vaccines, however, have not been studied in pregnant women. 

The CDC also notes that pregnant people with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness compared to non-pregnant women of reproductive age. 

Despite Twitter and Facebook’s pledges to remove misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine, Blumenthal noted that false claims about the vaccine’s impact on pregnant women have been spreading online, citing a The Daily Beast report from earlier this week. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The misinformation has also led to harassment, including users telling one woman who shared she got the coronavirus vaccine when she was 14 weeks pregnant and later miscarried that “she got what she deserved” and “I wonder if she can be charged for what she did,” according to the report.

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes miscarriage. 

The news from Blumenthal comes as other forms of misinformation appear to be slipping through the cracks of social media platforms' policies. Notably, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s posts spreading false anti-vaccination claims have remained up on Twitter and Facebook and his account has not been taken down. He was removed from Facebook-owned Instagram last week, but his posts spreading similar coronavirus vaccine misinformation on Facebook has not led to a suspension of his page. 

Blumenthal is asking Facebook and Twitter for detailed responses as to the enforcement of their policies surrounding the removal of anti-vaccination content by the end of the month. 

Facebook earlier this month said it would start removing posts that spread false information about vaccines in general, expanding on its previously announced policy to remove false information especially about the coronavirus vaccine. Twitter said it would remove false information about the coronavirus vaccine, but has not expanded the policy to apply to vaccines in general. 

Spokespeople for Twitter and Facebook were not immediately available for comment.